Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Evan Hansen on The Good News

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

Illustration by Nidhi Balwada from India

This entry is a part of an on-going blog series called The Good News, which is taking place throughout the Easter Season, from Easter to Pentecost. A full list of the contributors can be found here. Evan’s local newspaper is the Caviler Daily. Here is Evan Hansen on the Good News.

THE GOOD NEWS

There is a story in the bible that goes something like this:

Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees (religious experts) saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “This man receives sinners and eats with them. What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?”

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.”

What is the good news? Ironically, one way to answer the question is found in the statement the Pharisees offered in this story; “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

What’s the big deal? After all, Jesus was just eating, right? You see, the Pharisees knew something we have forgotten: A meal can be one of the most intimate communal acts in which we participate. When we are eating together we are passing platters, pouring drink, and trying food from each other’s plates. We share stories that often flow more freely after a good glass of wine and in this way forge connections deeper and more intimate than would otherwise be possible. Life happens and is shared around the dinner table. And here is Jesus, God and man, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff, tax collectors and sinners who recognized their hunger.

What kind of meals are we eating? Here at one of the most prestigious universities in America we feast on some of the best the world has to offer. Academic excellence, professional accolades, and a certain respect accompany working for or attending UVA. Isn’t it odd, though, that these small meals tend to leave us hungry, wanting more? This is because at their very best they are appetizers preparing our palettes for something with substance. The good news for us is that a kingdom is coming and in this kingdom, Jesus continues to feast with tax collectors and sinners. And this is good news because if we are all honest with ourselves or even remotely in touch with our deepest longings we recognize that our own banquets are sparse. The good news is that we are all invited to feast with Jesus. At a Jesus feast, we can know and be known, see and be seen, being healed in the process.

Jesus had no problem feasting with those who seemed to deserve it the least but needed it the most. When the church is truest to itself, it learns from this example and feasts with those who recognize their hunger. The gospel is good news for a hungry people.

Evan Hansen lives in Charlottesville, VA with his wife Missy and rabbit PBR. While serving as a campus minister at the University of Virginia, he is helping plant All Souls Charlottesville, a community that enjoys a good feast. His local newspaper is the Caviler Daily.


7 Responses to Evan Hansen on The Good News

  1. Winn Collier says:

    Thank you for reminding me today of both my hunger and how Jesus offers me plenty.

    I’m glad I get to feast with you.

  2. Dustin James says:

    Evan, I look forward to feasting with Jesus. You made me think that one way the people of God can point to this kingdom feast is by throwing lively dinner parties and making sure the local riffraff are at the top of the guest list!

  3. Great use of the biblical material. An excellent reminder of the power of community around the table and its function to remind of the possibilities of feasting with Jesus.

  4. Sonja says:

    Evan,
    It reminded me of the story where the table got prepared for the guests,but the ‘invited’ on the guest list all had there own reason to pass for it. Then all who were hungry, beggars, strangers and more were able to, entered in…..
    Loved the phrase ‘whats the big deal, after all Jesus was just eating right’?
    tolerating the sinner and the intolerate hypocrisy….

  5. evan says:

    Thanks for the comments! Dustin and Brian, you both nailed it. As a community of people who look towards a great wedding feast, we should be throwing the best parties, hosting the best festivals, and working the hardest to curb hunger. Hospitality is a powerful metaphor in our world, and one we need to unpack even more as we look to communicate the good news to our communities.

  6. evan says:

    Sonja,
    Great connection! Each time I read that story I’m forced to wonder who I am, or who I’m inviting.

  7. jrwoodward says:

    Evan,

    Thanks for feeding us with some good news and helping us to imagine how to extend the table to others as well as remind us how simply and profoundly we can share and be the good news for others, especially those of us who know we need a physician.

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